Gila: Stages 1 & 2
Today was a really, really good day for me. It was also probably one of the harder days of racing I’ve ever had.
I ended up in a break with Kristin Armstrong, Alison Powers (NOW), Jade Wilcoxson (Optum), Liza Rachetto (Primal), and two others. As soon as we got a gap, Kristin told me to drive it. I thought to myself “shit, this is early,” but drove it anyway. This was 20 miles in to the 73 miles race. She said later that even if we didn’t stay away she wanted to put pressure on the other teams.
We soon figured out that none of the other girls were going to work, so just the two of us (Kristin and myself) pulled on the front. Then there was the fiasco about the wrong turn that you can read about, which was soon righted by neutralizing the field and restarting us with our previous gap. We guttered it on the left and the “two others” got popped even though they hadn’t pulled through at all.
After doing the majority of the pulling for thirty five miles to let Kristin rest as much as possible, I got popped on a roller. The Primal rider got popped too. When I saw that Alison and Jade still weren’t going to work with Kristin (the roads are long and wide and you can see everything), I gave it a final extra effort and caught back on on a descent.
Later I found out that Kristin gave Alison a thumbs up when I caught back on. Kristin told me to give it 4 more k, which I did. The break went up to 2:30 before I finally got popped, about 60 miles into the race.
That night I ate dinner, ate a second dinner an hour later, and still would have eaten a box of cookies if they’d been put in front of me. If only my SRM computer hadn’t fallen off I’d know how hard I actually went. Would have been an awesome power file!
I’m sharing a host house with Pascale, who was also craving sweets after the race. We were sitting across from each other at the dinner table, each of us staring off into space in silence. Every few minutes a word would escape her lips in a half whisper…something usually along the lines of “Oreos” or “Nutella,” and I wondered if she even knew she was speaking aloud.
Our team meeting that evening was a good one! I know what you’re thinking, “of course it was a good one since you got the yellow jersey today,” but I can tell you that’s not necessarily a given. It was a good meeting because we rode well as a team AND got the yellow jersey. It’s amazing working with Kristin Armstrong because I’m realizing how much thought and calculation goes into some of these race strategies. I’m also learning about how to “create opportunities,” as she says.
She talks a lot about how, in a stage race, it doesn’t necessarily matter if you’ve gotten dropped a little bit on a climb. All that matters is if you can time trial better than the people you’re climbing with. She also talks not only about eating and drinking, but eating and drinking BETTER than your competitors.
And I have to admit, it was an especially sweet team meeting from my perspective because I got to hear straight from Kristin’s lips how much she appreciated my effort.
If I keep it up I might get an Exergy Tour spot. Fingers crossed.
Ok, today’s team meeting (if we had one) would have been the perfect example of a bad team meeting even though Kristin retained the leader’s jersey and won her second stage in a row. Several of us missed the split, and when we realized we’d been dropped with some stronger girls, we made the call not to chase the split down. That left Kristin slightly vulnerable with only two teammates up the road to help her.
We should have made the split in the first place.
We didn’t have a team meeting tonight because the TT is tomorrow, and we need to focus on that. Plus, we’re all beat from these first two days of racing. It’s not just the racing though. You might think there’d be a lot of down time since we’re only racing for 4 out of the 24 hours in a day, but that’s far from the truth. Force feeding yourself takes time. Cooking your food takes time. Then there’s packing, pinning your numbers, getting dressed, warming up. Afterwards, there’s massages, a team meeting, a team dinner, & logistics planning for the next day. I hardly have time to email my boyfriend!
Yesterday, we had an 80-mile transfer from the finish to our host house. I almost threw up in the cramped team van. It was claustrophobic, and it didn’t help that I’d just chugged a recovery. Massages are nice, of course, but they’re still on the to-do list. I actually spend about 30-minutes rolling on my TP Qadballer before my massage so that my swanee can focus on my back and my glutes. Pascale and I finally got our hands on some ice cream tonight, and ice cream I can stomach any time!